Innovation Could Help Floral Industry Blossom

NEW YORK, May 7 /PRNewswire/ — Mother’s Day accounts for approximately 10 percent of total annual U.S. cut flower sales, which equals about $41 million. However, without innovation to foster growth, Mother’s Day and annual sales may wilt in the future, according to a new Rabobank report, “U.S. Floriculture and Nursery.”

“The U.S. flower market is primarily an impulse market with approximately three quarters of flowers sold as gifts. Other countries, such as Switzerland, Norway and the Netherlands, also use flowers as decorations and throughout their homes,” said Rabobank Assistant Vice President of Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory (FAR) Marieke de Rijke. “However, U.S. consumers are not used to buying flowers for personal use.”

Despite a relatively high purchasing power, U.S. flower consumption lags behind Western Europe. According to the Flower Council of Holland, each year Americans spend about $31 — based on current exchange rates — on cut flowers while the Swiss, for example, spend more than $100. Cultural differences account for some of this disparity, but U.S. consumers have traditionally been dissatisfied with flower quality and vase life in particular. However, retailers are tackling this problem.

“In order to make flowers more common and to lift flower consumption, retailers, particularly supermarkets, are increasingly offering a vase-life guarantee,” said de Rijke.

Unfortunately, that guarantee may only be part of the equation for keeping customers — especially as input costs rise and competition from importers increases. According to the report, “today, 75 percent of U.S. flower consumption is originating in Colombia, and the cut flower trade flow from South America to North America is the world’s second largest.” Year-round production, low land values, low labor costs and little or no energy use make markets in Latin America more attractive for high-quality, low-cost flowers.

“In order to stay in business over the past two decades growers have started to focus on producing higher quality flower varieties. As a result, traditional cut flowers such as roses, carnations and chrysanthemums are now rarely produced in the United States. Growers are mainly producing orchids, lilies tulips and gerberas,” said de Rijke. “Over the past decade, the U.S. flower industry has gone through a ‘survival of the fittest’ with the most efficient producers left.”

Although flower consumption in the United States is relatively low, the industry has been consistent in growth, and has opportunities to blossom. But, in order to maintain this growth, innovations such as high-quality niche varieties with a long vase life, sell-by dates and innovative marketing must be put into place.

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition) “Innovation Could Help Floral Industry Blossom.” PR Newswire, 7 May 2008. Infotrac Newsstand, Accessed 24 Mar. 2019.